Socialist Worker

Local government round-up

Issue No. 2103

Copeland

Refuse workers at Copeland council in Whitehaven, Cumbria, were set to start an all out indefinite strike from Tuesday of this week.

The workers, members of the Unite union, are in dispute with the council over working hours. Workers currently work between 40 and 45 hours a week – despite a national agreement reached in 1997 that promised all workers in local government a 37-hour week.

Copeland council has proposed to cut hours in line with this agreement, but is trying to lengthen the working day.

Union members say this would mean giving up a set finishing time and daily shifts sometimes of nine hours or more. It would impact harshly on anyone with family responsibilities.

Unite union organiser Alan McGukin said, “This is not about money, it is about quality of life for the workers.”


East Dunbartonshire

Council workers at the Hilton refuse depot in East Dunbartonshire were set to strike for seven days from midnight on Wednesday of this week over the council’s single status pay deal.

Workers at the Mavis Valley waste transfer station are set to join them from Friday of this week until Monday of next week. A 48 hour strike planned at Mavis Valley for last weekend was suspended after union officials said they had made some progress.

However, GMB union officials said that industrial action will now continue as “there is still a lot to be done”.

The workers won a massive 95 percent vote for strike action and have already held a number of successful strikes.

They are fighting a deal that would mean cuts of up to 25 percent of some salaries as well as loss of overtime allowances.


Leeds

Refuse and street cleaning workers in the GMB union at Leeds council have voted to suspend their strike action over the council’s single status pay deal.

GMB officials say that there have been improvements in the council’s offer. However, they also warned that if no satisfactory settlement is reached by

23 June the action will resume.

Around 200 workers have so far been involved in three days of successful strike action.

The GMB says that it may ballot a further 800 workers including sports centre workers, caretakers and day centre staff for strikes over the deal.


Glasgow bins

Around 170 refuse workers in Glasgow walked out on unofficial strike action on Friday of last week.

The workers, based at the council’s Queenslie and Eastern depots, walked out in protest over overtime payments. The strikers say that the council failed to meet agreed payments of between £1,500 and £4,000.

One worker told the local paper, “We were promised everyone would get their money today, but that hasn’t happened and we are all raging.”

A council spokesperson said there had been “a misconception on the part of some staff about the size of back payments they were going to receive”.


Glasgow care

Workers in Glasgow’s council-run residential care homes are planning to ballot to strike over pay cuts.

Glasgow’s New Labour council is implementing the cuts under the pretext of the single status equal pay agreement.

The council has refused to recognise the skills of the residential workers and some are faced with pay cuts of over £7,000 per year.

The 1,000 residential workers are members of the Unison union. After two years of talks with the council, workers now feel any course other than a strike is a waste of time. They have asked Unison to ballot for strike action.

This will be the third major dispute in Glasgow over single status in the last year.

A Glasgow Unison member


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